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BIBLE PASSAGE: Matthew 6:25-34
BACKGROUND: We all have our preconceived ideas, sometimes subconsciously, about who might make a ‘suitable’ follower of Jesus. Peter certainly did, and we are no different! Allow God to speak during your preparation for this session and to show you his heart for others.
As you invite everyone to join you, begin a discussion around the theme by asking everyone: “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?”
You will need: balloons; chalk or masking tape Mark a line at either end of your space.
Split the group into two teams and line the teams up behind one line. Put a big pile of balloons behind the other.
The first person runs and grabs a balloon. When they get back to the rest of the team they pass the balloon to the next person, who goes with the balloon to get another balloon. When they get back they pass the two balloons to the next person, who has to get another one, and so on!
If anyone drops a balloon the team loses all their balloons and has to start again. At the end of a set time limit, the team with the most balloons in play wins.
If possible, find somewhere outside where you might see some flowers, trees or birds. (If you can’t go outside, provide pictures
of different nature scenes and play some birdsong in the background.)
Ask the group to look out for these things, letting them point things out and interrupt you. Depending where you hold the group, it might be worth staying outside and reading the passage out there, or it might be better to have a small walk around and then return to where you were meeting. But while you’re walking, ask the group to look out for birds and plants.
Read the passage out to the group, making a specific point of looking at any interesting nature around you.
Discuss the passage using these questions (stay outside to do this if possible):
- Why do you think it was important to Jesus that his followers didn’t worry?
- What do you think Jesus means when he says: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
- Why do we worry? What does worrying achieve?
- Do you think Jesus gives us enough reason not to worry?
- Is it easy to stop worrying? How do you do it?
- What might the emotions that replace worry be?
- Jesus uses flowers and birds as examples of things that are taken care of without worrying. Do you have any examples of people or other beings that you find inspirational?
- What would churches be like if Christians worried less than other people?
You will need: A4 card; pens
Give everyone a piece of paper or card and ask them to fold it in half. Encourage them to spend some time reflecting on their own worries and use this as a guide.
Ask the group to write ‘My worries’ at the top left-hand side of the paper and then list the things they worry about. They might want to talk about what they have written or to keep it more private. Try to create space for gentle conversation for those who want it and space for those who don’t. It might help to play some music at the same time.
Next, ask them to write ‘My life without worries’ on the right-hand side. Invite them to think about what their lives might be like without any worry. What are some of the riskier things they would do? What would they be like? What might be different? Give them time to write and think about these things as well.
After they’ve written their thoughts you could invite people to share if anyone wants to. Did they find it helpful to think about this? How might you all encourage each other to live more as though you didn’t have worries?
Explain to the group that you’re going to try a really helpful way to pray, using your breath to help you. Ask the group to get comfortable and explain that it would be good to close their eyes so they aren’t distracted by other people. Encourage the group to focus on breathing in and out slowly. Explain that we breathe in what we need (oxygen) and breathe out what we need to get rid of (carbon dioxide).
Jesus told his followers that they didn’t need to worry. He reassured them that they would be taken care of by his heavenly Father. As you breathe in and out, try to concentrate on breathing out your worry on the out breaths, letting go of the things that stop you living each day fully. And as you breathe in, breathe in faith. Breathe in life to the full. Breathe in the Holy Spirit, who gives us faith and helps us not to fear.
Encourage the group to keep on praying like this for a minute in silence. It might be helpful to tell them it will be a minute so they have a sense of how long they will be doing this for. You could finish this time of silence with the following prayer:
“Jesus, you told us not to worry. Help us to leave our worries in your safe hands, and in exchange give us the faith to believe that all that we need can be found in you. Amen.”
BECCA DEAN is a writer and PhD researcher in Durham. Her book, Be Live Pray, helps young people engage with prayer and spirituality in inclusive and creative ways. She blogs at beccaislearning.com
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